Miami Marlins Need Carlos Gomez, And Not Just This Year

Jul 10, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez (30) hits a single during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 10, 2016; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Astros center fielder Carlos Gomez (30) hits a single during the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

With losses mounting and Alex Rodriguez announcing his intention to take the rest of the year off, incentive and options alike seem slim when it comes to upgrading the roster for this 2016 playoff chase. The most prominent name coming out of the rumor mill these days is one Carlos Gomez, former All-Star and current Mendoza Line caliber outfielder. High hopes that a change of scenery and a return to the National League can help him return to competitive form fuel the urge to try to pull him away on the cheap from Houston; he’s batted just .226 since joining the Junior Circuit.

But to my way of thinking, his 2016 value is only half the story. Gomez could be a key piece of a championship contending squad, but it’s much more likely to be the 2017 Marlins than the 2016 version.

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Talking 2016 is easy. Colleague Kyle Rowley wrote on it earlier this week, and the reasons are fairly self-evident. Giancarlo Stanton is out, with Justin Bour gone before him. Adding on would be a huge boost of confidence to a slumping club.

But on the other hand, that message of confidence was sent already in the form of Fernando Rodney and Andrew Cashner. Since the calendar turned to August, it hasn’t just been the Cubs of the baseball world that have creamed the Marlins. They’ve struggled against everyone, barely scraping buy in that one series win against Colorado. With an already all but bare cupboard of eligible prospects to deal, there’s an easy argument for just letting it ride at this point.

However, Gomez is in a unique spot. Sure, he could be an impact presence this season. The greater value though might lie in how cheaply he could be acquired for an extremely extended 2017 tryout.  Fixing him in six to eight weeks might be a big ask, but six to eight months? Much more doable. A free agent after this season, the value of the thirty-year old outfielder has plummeted, even with Scott Boras behind the wheel.   He’d be a reasonable upside add for the third outfielder spot, especially with Ichiro returning for another year of relief duty.

Which brings us to the deepest position on the Marlins roster, and why Gomez might be valuable as a 2017 starter. The current starting outfield of Marcell Ozuna, Stanton, and Christian Yelich is one of the best in baseball, if not the best. Ichiro is ageless, and still elite in limited duty; Derek Dietrich is capable of playing the outfield as well, and has really blossomed at the plate this year.

But the second most reliable starting pitcher on the team remains Tom Koehler, and that’s not going to get it done if October baseball is the goal.

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Marcell Ozuna is great, a developing talent that has really resurrected his career after an extremely disappointing 2015 campaign. Yet on this roster, he’s a luxury the prospect strapped Marlins can’t afford. He needs to be playing elsewhere in 2017.

More than anything, this is a reflection of the free agent pitching market. In a normal year, you keep Ozuna and ink another Wei-Yin Chen.  The upcoming offseason is anything but normal though, as Jeremy Hellickson might actually be the best arm available. And he’ll be paid like it.  That’s nuts for this team.

A deal built around Ozuna though could reap big rewards, netting a No. 2 or No. 3 caliber starter with controllable years.  That’s more than reasonable for an All-Star outfielder who could finish the year with 30 HRs. And that kind of talent infusion into the rotation would more than makeup for a talent drop off at a single position in a lineup that has ranked amongst the best in team batting average all season.

Again, Ozuna is a good one. Not taking him for granted at all. But Stanton and Yelich are better, and the only point less debatable than that is the need to upgrade this rotation.  He’s the best way to get it done.

Why not add Carlos Gomez to the mix as the third guy with just enough range and just enough upside?